Putting action behind words: Horizon's company-wide push for racial justice
After George Floyd’s death, Horizon BCBSNJ released the company’s Pledge to Achieve Lasting and Positive Change. While Horizon has a long history of standing with New Jerseyans committed to social justice, the Pledge is our strongest and most clear articulation of our values and since then has guided the work we have done throughout the company to put concrete actions behind our words.
There are five elements of the Pledge:
- We will listen and learn from the communities we serve and our employees through active, ongoing conversations based on mutual respect and an appreciation for the value of diversity.
- We will reflect the diversity of the communities we serve throughout the organization so that we can achieve our mission to empower our members to achieve their best health.
- We will address health care disparities related to race and the social barriers our members face in accessing care.
- We will collaborate with leaders in our communities across New Jersey who drive social justice and equality.
- We will promote equity, inclusion, awareness and understanding to confront racism, hate and discrimination.
After issuing the Pledge, Horizon quickly organized itself to identify and pursue the specific actions required to live up to our commitments. We’re holding ourselves accountable and making real progress. Some of the ways we’re fulfilling our Pledge:
Pledge Element: We will listen and learn from the communities we serve and our employees…
- Conducted 65 listening sessions, in which all company employees discussed with each other issues of race, inclusion and equality, inside and outside the workplace.
- Enhanced communication with a dedicated inbox to collect employee ideas and sentiments about diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).
- Began quarterly discussions entitled, “Continuing the Conversation with Horizon’s Leaders” in which a panel of senior leaders of the Company shares their perspectives on topics regarding DEI.
Pledge Element: We will reflect the diversity of the communities we serve throughout the organization…
- Expanded an Executive Leadership Development Program to develop a diverse talent pipeline, which over time will build greater bench strength for future leaders.
- Collaborated with the NJ African American Chamber of Commerce to generate a more diverse pool of qualified job candidates.
- Revised and expanded the Reverse Mentoring Program enabling minority employees to mentor the company’s top executives on the perspectives and challenges of individuals from different cultural or ethnic backgrounds.
Pledge Element: We will address health care disparities related to race and the social barriers…
- Created Horizon Neighbors in Health, an intensive, collaborative program with community and care partners to help individuals overcome social, economic and other barriers preventing them from achieving their best health.
- Concentrated our corporate giving to non-profit partners dedicated to improving the health and well-being of New Jerseyans living in underserved communities.
- Required cultural competency courses for more providers.
Pledge Element: We will collaborate with leaders in our communities across New Jersey who drive social justice and equality.
- Created wider and more robust business and vendor relationships with minority-owned enterprises.
- Identified and invested in a minority venture capital fund focused on minority-run healthcare startups.
- Driving strong collaboration relationships with organizations promoting equality, such as the NJ Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the NJ African American Chamber of Commerce, The NJ LBGTQ Chamber of Commerce and Newark Regional Partnership.
- Joined CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion and The Gender and Diversity KPI Alliance.
- Strengthened contract language in our vendor agreements to incent existing suppliers to leverage diverse suppliers as sub-contractors.
Pledge Element: We will promote equity, inclusion, awareness and understanding to confront racism, hate and discrimination.
- Direct and ongoing engagement of CEO Gary St. Hilaire to build employees’ embrace and adoption of the Pledge.
- Increased our partnership with the Institute for Social Justice to support specific efforts to reduce racial health disparities and expand access to mental health supports for minorities in the juvenile justice system.
Horizon’s Pledge is not a one-time exercise or a concept we will pursue for a limited moment in time. It goes to the core of who Horizon is, serving as a critical underpinning of the Culture of Excellence we strive for and our role as a corporate citizen in New Jersey.
There is much more work to do in order to bring full meaning to Horizon’s Pledge. We know what the future must look like and we have plotted a clear path forward to be measured and accountable. We will update our members periodically on our purposeful work to bring about the changes that must be made.
More importantly, we vow to show how the words behind the pledge are put into action through the way we care for and interact with our members, serve our communities and lift up our fellow New Jersey residents. Everyone deserves an equal opportunity to achieve their best health, and we are committed to do what we can to remove racial barriers to these opportunities.